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For 12 years, Lolita Voss avoided fibroid surgery despite heavy bleeding, anemia and intense pain that kept her home many days. While hospitalized for the third time with a life-threatening infection caused by uterine fibroid tumors blocking her kidney, Voss came face-to-face with Sabrina Holmquist, MD, MPH, who convinced her it was time to have her uterus removed.
Until then, the single mother of three felt she could ill afford the time off work to recover from surgery. Furthermore, after two bad experiences with general anesthesia, Voss was afraid she would die.
“Dr. Holmquist sat on the side of my bed, took my hand and said I had put up with this condition far longer than anyone should have to,” Voss recalls. With careful consideration for personal health factors and preferences, Voss and Holmquist discussed options and agreed on a treatment strategy. “She put my fears to rest and helped me realize I needed surgery,” Voss said.
In August 2015, Holmquist removed Voss' uterus, which contained several fibroid tumors and weighed as much as a newborn baby. The two-hour hysterectomy was completed under an epidural anesthesia and without a blood transfusion.
Today, Voss is completely healed and pain-free. The 50-year-old is writing a cookbook on healthy eating, teaching exercise classes, and starting her own culinary business. She’s also back to singing with the Grammy Award-nominated choir at her church.
“Thanks to Dr. Holmquist and my medical team at the University of Chicago Medicine, I have a brand new life,” she said.
Dr. Holmquist said that Voss' situation is far from unique. “Many women put up with large fibroid tumors preventing them from living a normal life. They often fear they’ll be less of a woman if their uterus is removed,” she said. “I’m here to tell them it’s simply not true, and they don’t need to suffer any longer.”